Here’s a series of words that wouldn’t make any sense a mere handful of decades ago: the World Health Organisation is considering adding “gaming disorder” to the list of mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders recognised in the International Classification of Diseases.
As Business Insider is reporting, the classification has been introduced in a draft version of the 11th revision of the ICD. The ICD is a project to make a comprehensive system of classification and coding for all health issues, so that diagnosis, reporting, and statistics across different countries can all be pulled together without any compatibility issues. As such, it aims to cover pretty much everything, which is why something as seemingly niche as gaming disorder would appear.
Obviously, gaming itself is not a problem, what the entry specifically refers to is an addiction to gaming that noticeably negatively impairs your ability to function in day-to-day life. The draft defines the disorder as follows:
Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
In short: if you seem unable to control when or how often you play, if you start focusing on gaming to the detriment other things in your life, and if you keep gaming even though it’s fucking up your shit, you might well having a gaming disorder. These broadly match the criteria for what constitutes addiction in general, but allow doctors, statisticians and whoever else is interested in this information to distinguish between it and other addictions.
The entry also includes sub-diagnoses specifically for online gaming (ICD code 6D11.0) and offline gaming (ICD code 6D11.1), with the difference in diagnosis determined by whether or not the gaming is “primarily conducted over the internet“.